Pepper farming in Nigeria – The Ultimate Guide on How to Grow Peppers

July 19, 2020


Pepper farming in Nigeria is one of the most profitable vegetable farming business anyone can engage in. Pepper is used in almost all types of foods eaten in Nigeria. Almost every Nigerian eats pepper, if not all Nigerians, this makes the cultivation of pepper a lucrative business in Nigeria.

Pepper farming is the cultivation of peppers, it is one of the most lucrative farming ventures in Nigeria. 

Pepper farming in Nigeria can be grouped under the cultivation of habanero (atarodo) pepper, cultivation of sweet pepper (bell pepper), cultivation of chilli pepper, cultivation of shombo pepper, yellow pepper farming and cultivation of the local bell pepper (tatase).

Pepper Farming Business Plan in Nigeria

Financial Plan (in Naira ₦)

Cost of Drip Irrigation

                              625,000.00

Installation of Drip Irrigation System

 -

On Site Training of staff in precision farming

 -

Soil and Water Analysis

                                               -  

                              625,000.00

Fertilisers:

NPK  (15 bags)

                                90,000.00

Potassium Nitrate (5 bags)

                                75,000.00

Camag (3 bags)

                              30,000.00

Potassium Humate

                                  5,000.00

                              200,000.00

Pesticides:

Insecticides (15 bottles)

                                30,000.00

Fungicides

                                30,000.00

Nematicides

                                10,000.00

                                70,000.00

PROFIT ANALYSIS FOR ONE HECTARE OF PEPPER FARMING VENTURE- SCENARIO 1

Revenue:

600 bags @ N10000

6,000,000.00

Cost:

Rent of one hectare of farmland

25,000.00

Fertiliser

200,000.00

Manure

50,000.00

Pesticides

70,000.00

Hybrid Seeds

120,000.00

Labour for 6 months

240,000.00

Knapsack Sprayer

5,000.00

Farm Tools

10,000.00

720,000.00

Profit

5,280,000.00

PROFIT ANALYSIS FOR ONE HECTARE OF PEPPER FARMING VENTURE - SCENARIO 2

Revenue:

600 bags @ N4000

2,400,000.00

Cost:

Rent of one hectare of farmland

25,000.00

Fertiliser

200,000.00

Manure

50,000.00

Pesticides

70,000.00

Hybrid Seeds

120,000.00

Labour for 6 months

240,000.00

Knapsack Sprayer

5,000.00

Farm Tools

10,000.00

720,000.00

Profit

1,680,000.00

PROFIT ANALYSIS FOR ONE HECTARE OF PEPPER FARMING VENTURE - SCENARIO 3

Revenue:

600 bags @ N2500

1,500,000.00

Cost:

Rent of one hectare of farmland

25,000.00

Fertiliser

200,000.00

Manure

50,000.00

Pesticides

70,000.00

Hybrid Seeds

120,000.00

Labour for 6 months

240,000.00

Knapsack Sprayer

5,000.00

Farm Tools

10,000.00

720,000.00

Profit

780,000.00

NOTES/ASSUMPTIONS

The profit analyses above were done using three scenarios (best case, mid case and worst case).

Drip Irrigation: The cost of drip irrigation kit per hectare of habanero pepper is N625,000.

Fertilisers: N200,000 is expected to be spent on  fertilisers for one hectare of habanero pepper. Please note that the volume of fertilisers used is directly proportionate to your expected yield. Also note that the amount of fertilisers to be used can only be accurately computed after soil analysis. If your soil is rich, you can expect to spend a significantly low amount of money on fertilisers.

Pesticides: N70,000 is expected to be spent on pesticides (fungicides, insecticides and nematicides), however, you should note that the total cost to be spent on pesticides will depend on pests and diseases pressure which can vary according to season, weather pattern and location.

Sales Revenue: The price of habanero peppers in the open market in Nigeria moves in a cyclical manner. The price has a peak season every year and a trough season. During the peak months (the best months to plant peppers), the price of a 10-20kg bag of habanero peppers can range between N2,500 and N10,000, sometimes the price of same bag of pepper can reach N20,000.

It is assumed that 600 bags (15kg-20kg) of habanero peppers will be harvested in a season from one hectare of habanero pepper. Please note that the harvest can be significantly more than the assumed figure and it can be significantly lower. Harvests depend on the agronomic practices of the farmer and to a lesser extent the climatic condition.

Dry season pepper farming can be very lucrative.

Manure: Chicken manure is advised to be used for the farm as it is one of the most potent manures around. N50,000 is expected to be spent on manure, however, it can be cheaper or even gotten free from poultry farms around.

Hybrid Seeds: The cost of hybrid seeds to be used for one hectare of habanero pepper farm is expected to be N120,000. Please note that open pollinated seeds are significantly cheaper and can be bought for as low as N30,000 for one hectare worth, however, they are not as disease resistant and high yielding like hybrid seeds.

Cost of Labour: The cost of labour for 6 months is assumed to be N240,000. Please note that the cost of labour varies according to location and cost of living in the location where your farm is situated. Some equipment can also be used to reduce the need for human labour.

Knapsack Sprayer: The cost of one knapsack sprayer is N5,000. The cost of one motorized knapsack sprayer is N150,000.

Farm Tools: N10,000 is expected to be spent on this. However, if mechanized tools are preferred, the cost will be significantly higher.

pepper farming in nigeria

Business Description of Pepper Farming

Pepper farming is the cultivation and marketing of peppers in Nigeria. Peppers are planted, harvested and expected be sold in the open markets in Nigeria or in the organized markets (supermarkets, hotels and eateries etc.) in Nigeria.

Market Analysis

Market Trend: The ever increasing population of Nigeria is a positive factor for the demand of habanero peppers in Nigeria. Almost all Nigerians consume peppers. Peppers are used in making different types of soups and other delicacies consumed by people from all tribes in Nigeria.

The demand for peppers is fairly constant all through the year. However, the supply of peppers significantly dips from April to August every year because farmers especially those in the northern part of Nigeria do not cultivate this crop because of inadequate supply of water from January-April every year.

To get a good profit from peppers, pepper farmers need to plant at some certain dates.

Target Market: The target markets for supply of peppers are the open markets in Nigeria. Depending on the hectarage to be cultivated, the peppers can be taken to Mile 12 Market, Lagos which is the largest open roof food and commodities market in Nigeria.

The organized market like supermarkets, eateries and hotels are likely to offer higher prices than the open market. This class of buyers can also be targeted.

Competitive Analysis: There are a lot of farmers cultivating peppers in Nigeria, however, a significant percentage of them are subsistent farmers that cultivate less than 2 hectares of farmland. They are mostly illiterates who implement poor agronomic practices; they also cultivate their crops only during the rainy season which makes them sell their produce at low prices because of glut.

Cultivating pepper all year round using smart irrigation equipment like drip irrigation kits will guarantee that a farmer will sell his produce at good prices.. Most of the habanero peppers consumed in Lagos are trucked from the far northern part of Nigeria to Lagos..

Sales and Marketing

The sales and marketing strategy to be used by a pepper farmer will depend on the type of market it wants to sell its produce.

Selling in the open market involves just taking the peppers to the market, there are market agents who help farmers to sell their produce at an agreed percentage.

Selling at the more organized market may involve the use of social media marketing, the use of website, search engine optimization, words of mouth advertisement and having a retail store.

pepper farming

Climatic Conditions for pepper farming

All types of peppers grow under tropical climatic conditions. Peppers love sun, hence the reason why pepper farming does well in all areas in Nigeria.

Pepper farming can do well in hot and humid environment. The optimum growing temperature for most types of pepper is 20-30 celsius. Some varieties of hot peppers can do well in very hot conditions. In Nigeria, some peppers grow very well in areas with temperature exceeding 40 degrees Celsius.

Pepper farming cannot be done in very cold environment, also when temperature is too hot, it can cause flower abortion and leaves defoliation in pepper plants.

Land preparation for Pepper Farming

Pepper can grow well in most of the types of soil in Nigeria. Pepper can grow in loamy, sandy and clay soil. Pepper will not do well in very acidic soils and very alkaline soils.

In the forest zones of Nigeria, a lot of money will be spent to prepare the land for pepper farming especially if the farmer wants to cultivate on a virgin forest. Forests are dense in southern Nigeria with a lot of trees; the pepper farmer will have to remove the trees and other vegetation on the soil.

In the savannah belt of Nigeria where there are few trees, it is not expensive to prepare land for pepper farming.

After the removal of the vegetation on the soil, the farmer is advised plough his farmland, depending on the condition of the farmland, the farmer can plough his land twice. After ploughing, the farmer should harrow his farmland and the last stage is to ridge the farmland. All these processes can be mechanized with the use of tractors.

Farm Yard Manure (FYM) or chicken manure should be added to the farmland before ridging. This will make the soil become rich in nutrients. Nematicides can also be added to the soil to kill harmful soil borne insects and nematodes.

Fertilisation in Pepper Farming

Before the application of manure and fertilisers on pepper plants or soil, you need to do a soil analysis from a reputable laboratory.

1-4 tonnes of chicken manure should be applied per hectare of pepper depending on the result of your soil test. Manure enables the soil to retain more water and nutrients aside the fact that it also adds some nutrients to the soil. Chicken manure is one of the most potent or richest manures for cultivation of vegetables and indeed any crop. Fertilizers should be applied in stages in pepper planting.

The first stage is the base dressing stage also known as the pre-planting stage. At this stage, fertilisers like single super phosphate (ssp), diamonium phosphate (DAP), potassium sulphate, dolomite, calmag fertilizer and ammonium nitrate can be applied. Simple NPK fertilisers can also be applied. The base dressing stage is very important in farming.

For those using soil based application of fertilisers, fertilisers with a high phosphorus content should be used at the planting stage to increase the root mass of the plants, fertilisers with a high nitrogen content should be used at the vegetative stage of the plant to increase the leaf mass and boost photosynthetic ability of the plant and potassium based fertilisers should be used during flowering and fruiting. Calcium based fertilisers should be used in all stages to improve the ability of the plants to fight diseases and pests and to also improve flowering and the quality of fruits.

For those using drip irrigation, fertigation during the season will involve the use of potassium nitrate, calcium nitrate, mono ammonium phosphate, mono potassium phosphate and urea etc. Fertigation should be done through drip irrigation daily or bi-weekly.

Calcium is very important in vegetable farming. Calcium is the trucker of all nutrients, without adequate calcium in vegetable farming; the plants will not be able to use other nutrients well. Calcium also improves the quality of fruits. Pepper plants with adequate calcium will have fruits that can stay long without spoiling or losing their quality.

Farmers should be careful in using urea fertilizer or any fertilizer with a high content of nitrogen. Excessive nitrogen can make the plants susceptible to some pests and diseases. Excess nitrogen can also increase insect pressure.

Potassium can make plants tolerate stress better. These stressors can come in form of pests and diseases pressure or adverse weather conditions.

pepper farming nigeria

Pepper Seeds

You can plant either open pollinated pepper seeds or hybrid seeds while engaging in pepper farming. Open pollinated seeds are cheap; they can also be saved and replanted by farmers. Hybrid seeds are bred by scientists; they are bred to resist diseases and pests better than the open pollinated seeds.

Hybrid seeds in most cases have a much higher yield than open pollinated seeds.

Nursery Management in Pepper Farming

In Nigeria, the conventional farmers raise pepper seeds in nursery beds. The nursery beds are raised soil or ridges where farmers plant pepper seeds for their initial growth before transplanting to the main field.

Farmers often use palm fronds or leaves to cover the pepper nursery in order to create some shade. Some farmers use shade nets to provide shades for the young pepper seedlings.

When using soil for nursery, the soil is treated with pesticides. Well cured manure is also added to the soil to boost its fertility.

The best type of nursery to use for pepper farming is the use of nursery or seed trays with soilless medium like coco peat. This ensures that the pepper seedlings roots are not disturbed when uprooted for transplanting.

Direct sowing of pepper seeds can also be done especially if you are using drip irrigation and the weather is not too hot. However, we strongly advise the use of nursery.

Irrigation for Pepper Farming

One of the top secrets of making super normal profit from pepper farming is to use irrigation especially drip irrigation.

Most of the pepper farmers in Nigeria use the rain as the sole method of getting water to their plants. Rain fed farmers plant cultivate their peppers at the same time and also harvest at the same time, this causes a glut in the market. During glut, prices get depressed and farmers make little or no profit.

With irrigation, farmers can cultivate their crops all year round. Drip irrigation systems are especially very efficient. With drip irrigation, farmers can pass water to the roots of their plants in an efficient manner. Drip irrigation systems also allow farmers to fertilize their crops without the need of labourers to side dress or top dress. This process is called fertigation.

Drip irrigation pepper farmers often record 50-200% more yield than rain fed farmers. Also, they can better fertilise their crops than rain fed farmers.

habanero pepper farming

Weed Control and Pruning in Pepper Farming

Weeding can be done by hand in pepper farming; in this case, the farmer uses hoes and cutlasses to remove the weeds on the farm.

Weeding can also be done through the use of motorized weeders. These weeders are powered by petrol or diesel engine; they are very efficient and can save labour cost. A typical power or motorized weeder can weed a hectare of pepper farm within one hour while labourers can spend several days to achieve this task.

Some types of herbicides can also be used to prevent the growth of weeds. However, care should be exercised when applying herbicides.

Thorough plough and harrow of a farmland can also delay the germination of weeds. Weeds can be very dangerous as they can reduce yield in pepper plants by as much as 98%.

Pruning is the removal of leaves, shoots and stems from pepper plants. This can reduce the incidences of diseases and also improve yield.

Pest Control in Pepper Farming

Pepper plants are often disturbed by a lot of pests. These pests come in form of insects, flies and grubs etc.

Some of the common pests in pepper farming are aphids, mites, thrips, pod borers and root grubs etc. The application of manure that is not well cured can introduce pests to the soil of a farm. Root grubs and some types of insects and flies are often present in manures, these pests can inflict significant damage on pepper plants.

A farmer should ensure that he applies only well cured manure to his farm. Neem cake can be added to manure in order to kill the pests in the manure. Biopesticides and antagonistic microbes can also be mixed with manure in order to kill the pests that may be present in the manure.

To control insects and flies, neem oil can also be used. Fermented cow urine and chilli pepper can also be used as pest control. To use neem oil, a surfactant like soap has to be added to it so that it will mix well in water.

Inorganic pesticides can also be used for pest control. There are a lot of chemical insecticides, acaricides and nematicides available in Nigeria. You should be very careful when buying pesticides in Nigeria, some are totally sub-standard.

Control of Diseases in Pepper Farming in Nigeria

From my experience in pepper farming in Nigeria, I have observed that mites attack, bacteria wilt, mosaic viral infection and blight diseases are the commonest diseases of pepper plants. The first step to prevent diseases in pepper plants is to buy treated seeds from approved seeds vendors in Nigeria. Planting untreated seeds can spread diseases to your farmland. All left over plants, debris and stumps should also be removed before you start the cultivation of pepper on your farmland. Leftover plants and debris can harbor diseases that can infect your crop.

Using sterile plant medium and nursery trays for raising pepper seedlings can also help in preventing the spread of diseases. Those who use raised soil beds for their pepper seedlings can spread diseases from their nursery to their field.

Trichoderma sp and other beneficial microbes can be used to prevent and control diseases in pepper farming. Pesticides like fungicides, insecticides and nematicides can also be used to prevent and control diseases in plant farming.

Stages of Growth in Pepper Plants

The whole duration of pepper plants can last between 120 days to 12 months depending on the types of pepper cultivated.

Habanero pepper plants (atarodo) can last for over 12 months on your farm. They start fruiting after 3 months of transplanting and you can harvest for 6-8 months if you take care of your plants well. Habanero pepper seedlings will typically spend 4-7 weeks in nursery before transplanting.

Chilli pepper plants’ behavior is similar to that of habanero pepper plants.

For sweet pepper, the whole cycle of the crop is about 200 days, sweet pepper cultivated in greenhouses can however last up to 6-8 months depending on the type of care given to it.

The vegetative stage in pepper plants is the stage at which the plant form canopy with a lot of leaves. This is the stage at which photosynthesis becomes very effective.

In most pepper plants, flowering starts after 75-90 days or 35-45 days after transplanting of the pepper seedlings.

Pepper Harvest

Harvesting normally starts in pepper plants after 80-120 days. Pepper fruits are perishable so there should be plans to preserve them. They can be preserved through refrigeration, they can also be sun dried or dried through solar dryers.

Peppers can be harvested when green in colour. They can also be harvested when red or yellow in colour. For habanero peppers, they are mostly harvested when red in colour. Some habanero peppers are yellow in colour, they are called Nsukka pepper in Nigeria.

For sweet pepper, they can be harvested when they are green, red or yellow. They are mostly consumed fresh and not dried.

Peppers can also be harvested, dried and milled into powder.

Open Field Pepper Farming

Open field pepper farming is the cultivation of peppers without the use of any protected covering or house. Open field cultivation of pepper is very common in Nigeria. About 99% of pepper farmers in Nigeria cultivate their pepper in the open field.

For sweet pepper cultivated in the open field, stakes may be used so that the fruits will not touch the soil. Fruits touching the soil can get infected and become unmarketable. Planks or bamboos and ropes are used to erect stakes for pepper plants.

Open field pepper farming does not require intensive inputs application like greenhouse farming. Some pepper farmers in Nigeria even use only manure to cultivate their peppers. However, we advise farmers to conduct a soil test in order to know the types of nutrients or fertilisers to apply to their soil.

pepper farming

Pepper Farming under Greenhouse

A greenhouse is a covered structure used in the cultivation of plants or crops. Peppers can be cultivated under greenhouse conditions.

In greenhouses, peppers are grown at a high density; also a lot of fertilisers and inputs are added to the pepper plants in order to maximize the yield of the pepper.

Greenhouse grown peppers are often superior in quality than open field peppers and they often command better prices than open field grown peppers.

The drawback of growing peppers in greenhouses is the initial cash layout to build or acquire a greenhouse.

Organic Pepper Farming in Nigeria

Some pepper farmers prefer to grow their peppers under organic conditions. Why organic farming for pepper? Organic farming involves the use of no chemicals at all while cultivating peppers.

Manure, microbial inoculum, biofungicides, bioinsecticides, neem oil and other organic inputs are used for organic pepper farming.

Organically grown peppers are usually sold at a premium as those who prefer organic foods are of the opinion that consuming organic foods are healthier than foods grown with chemicals.

Varieties of Peppers in Nigeria

There are a lot of varieties of peppers in Nigeria. Some are sweet pepper varieties, habanero pepper varieties and chilli pepper varieties etc.

Some varieties of pepper sold in Nigeria include Avenir F1, Ganga pepper, Mekong F1, Nirmanda F1, Piquante F1 (Red), Piquante F1 (Yellow) and Demon Chilli pepper.

Open pollinated pepper varieties can also be used for pepper farming in Nigeria.

Yield of pepper

Depending on the type and variety of pepper planted, the yield of pepper can vary from 2 tonnes – 30 tonnes per hectare. Some varieties of sweet pepper can yield up to 40 tonnes per hectare while some varieties of habanero peppers can yield up to 6 tonnes per hectare.

The yield of a pepper farmer depends on a lot of factors. The factors affecting the yield of a pepper farm includes the level of soil fertility, types of fertilisers used, water availability, weather conditions, weeds, level of pests and diseases and other agronomic factors.

Strategies to use to increase yield in pepper farming

Training: A farmer who wants to achieve a good yield from his pepper farm should get trained in precision and modern farming techniques. He should not reply on how peppers are cultivated by his forebearers. The conventional pepper farmers in Nigeria record low yields because they use outdated farming techniques.

Financing: Without adequate capital, your dream of achieving a high yield in pepper farming can be a pipe dream. Your pepper farm will need adequate money to make profit. Pepper farmers should use their personal savings if possible. Loans from banks should be the last resort.

Farmland: A potential farmer should strive to get a fertile farmland; this will reduce his cost on fertilisers and also assure him of getting a good yield from his pepper farm.

Soil and Water Analysis: Never forsake soil and water analysis before you commit your funds on any farming venture. This is a golden rule. I have seen a potential investor who lost over N20 million because he did not conduct a soil analysis. Your soil analysis will show the nutrients and microbial composition of your soil.

Good employees: You should strive to recruit good farm hands or workers. Your workers can make or mar your farming project. There should be an effective and efficient way to manage and monitor your workforce.

Farm workers are usually recruited from the Republic of Benin, Togo and the northern part of Nigeria.

Preparation of your soil: Ploughing, harrowing and ridging are important activities that can increase the chances of achieving a high yield in farming. Manure and biological can also be added to the soil to improve it.

Use drip irrigation: The use of drip irrigation can increase the yield of a pepper farmer by 50-250%. It is the most efficient type of irrigation for vegetable farming. Drip irrigation will enable farmers to cultivate their crops all year round.

Fertilisers, pesticides and other inputs: The right quantity of fertilisers, pesticides and other inputs should be used at the right time. Seeds from reputable seed dealers should be used on your farm.

Crop Management: You should ensure that your crops are well monitored and taken care of. Vegetables like peppers are fragile; they need close monitoring and management to prevent pests and diseases and to assure good yield.

Harvesting: Yes, the way and frequency of your harvests can impact your yield. Prompt harvest can increase the yield of peppers significantly. Leaving matured pepper pods on the plants will prevent new pepper pods from forming. So frequent harvests can increase pepper yield.

Pepper farming in Nigeria can be a very profitable venture to do.


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